Sunday, December 31, 2006

Road trip!

If you're into travel, especially by car, then Road Trip USA might be a site to add to your favourites. It's not a complete compendium of every single drive in the US, but it does do a good job of describing the route along 11 very distinctive treks - some even creeping up into Canada.

What I like about this site is that as you click a particular route, it's broken down into states (or provinces). As you click on one of them, the menu breaks down even further to individual towns or trip highlights. As you drill down, the map at the bottom gets more detailed as well. It's just an awesome way to explore the various routes and find out what's interesting along the way. The author of the site offers the material in the form of a book too.

Personally, I've driven a good portion of the Pacific Coast route.

Happy New Year!

From the land of beef and oil, here's wishing all my readers a great 2007. May all your dreams come true.

How can you kill yourself? Let me count the ways....

The 2006 Darwin Awards are announced. Let the gene pool weeding begin...............

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Another great web cartoon

Found on xkcd.

That is so me............
You know how some web pages want you to register to access their services? And how in some cases you need a valid email address because they won't allow you access until they've sent you some code or whatever? And you know how like you hate that because you're sure they're just going to add you to some spam list?

Well, here's 10 minute mail to the rescue. It's an email address that's only good for 10 minutes - just long enough to register, get your code and validate yourself. Then the address goes poof!

Wicked.

Line rider - urban run

OK - I promise, no more line rider............. after this one.

"And I want to talk to you.... though you may not want me to..."

I wasn't sure if I ever posted about this SNL skit before, but if I did - I can't find it.

Anyway, it's an idea that probably gets old fast, but until it does, I'm diggin' it. The Barry Gibb Talk Show.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Where is it - edition 11

This one should be tougher (I think). Click the picture for a larger view. Where is this? Nearest city name please

Good luck.

Do you like music videos?

I discovered a web site that tries to catalogue all the music videos that are on YouTube. The only problem is that not all the videos are actual "music videos" (some are concert footage - and bad quality footage at that) and some aren't even the artist they claim to be. But all in all it's a list with some potential.

Bonus points to the first person who can name the artist in the video still I posted.

Bodily tips for men

From the Men's Journal: Things You Didn't Know about your Body.

Topic to discuss - teens with credit

Here's a question for all my readers - should teens (under 18) be allowed to have credit cards? Do they have the financial wherewithal to manage credit responsibly?

Talk amongst yourselves..............

[snort] "mini-moons" [snort] (referring to #23)

I stumbled across this decent list of 50 things we know now (that we didn't know last year). Some I found interesting:

6. Cheese consumption in the United States is expected to grow by 50 percent between now and 2013.

19. Red wine contains anti-inflammatory chemicals that stave off diseases affecting the gums and bone around the teeth.

20. A substance called resveratrol, also found in red wine, protects mice from obesity and the effects of aging, and perhaps could do the same for humans.

OK - this makes perfect sense. As soon as more people hear about the new good things in red wine, there will be a plethora of wine and cheese parties. This helps explain #6.

Photo by abstract gourmet

Thursday, December 28, 2006

What Mars might look like in the future

What a hilarious animation of a future glimpse of Mars, if we keep sending (malfunctioning) probes and rovers to the planet. Classic!

Uber snow

Gee - I remember the snowbanks being quite high when I grew up in the outskirts of Montreal, but this takes the cake. This picture was supposedly taken in Japan after a decent snow storm.

More pictures here.

The 'ism' book

It's got a lot of 'ism's.

Yeah, I sense your skepticism.......

"A hand up, not a hand out"

The people who run One World Café in Salt Lake City, which inspired the birth of the SAME (So All Might Eat) Café in Denver Colorado are saints. They run their restaurants using the pay as you can approach.

The idea is that people who have no money are encouraged to exchange an hour of service for a meal. Likewise, guests who can afford to are encouraged to leave a little extra to offset the meals of those who have less to give. Their philosophy:

"..... everyone, regardless of economic status, deserves the chance to eat healthy, organic food while being treated with dignity."

Not only do you get to choose what you feel you can pay - because it's buffet, style, you can get as much food as you need. Only in the mood for half a bowl of soup? Help yourself. Need just a little more pizza to tide you over? Done deal.

Of course the opportunity for those who would take advantage of the situation is there, but there are far more stories of appreciative patrons who have more than paid their share. Some folks have even donated everything from a car to new tile for the bathroom.

In a world where restaurants tend to charge small fortunes for quantities of food that are too much for the sensible gourmand, this is an idea I hope spreads across the continent.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Don't never use no double negatives

How to write good - tips on better writing.

Photo by ana june

That means she's 45......

Celebrity born the exact same day as me: Enya!

Frickin' Enya, man.........

Laptop fires, infected iPods - it was a good year

PC World has a great summary of (what they consider to be) the big tech screw-up stories of 2006. It does make for interesting reading.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Electric cars not as bad for grid as some claim

Speaking of wind power, I read that provinces are capping the amount of wind power that can be depended on at roughly 10%. This is because unlike other sources of electricity, wind power stops as soon as the wind does. If too much power suddenly disappeared (when the wind stopped), the grid would de-stabilize - and that's bad.

I read another article that suggests when the day comes where we are plugging our cars into the grid to recharge them (hybrid or full electrics), this could create a kind of electrical buffer or storage system to help stabilize the grid. The idea is that with thousands of cars with huge battery storage capability plugged in, the cars get charged when power demand is low (overnight) and power can be drawn from them when demand is high (such as around dinner time). So the thing the grid has always been lacking - a buffer, could actually be solved by owners of electric cars with batteries.

Isn't that neat?

Enough with the excuses..........

Someone told me the other day that Alberta claims they cannot build any more wind farms in southern Alberta. The reason is that the existing grid cannot accommodate any more. Think about that for a second. Isn't that the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard?

Here's something else that bugs me about our electricity situation. On our electricity bills each month, we are offered the choice to spend an extra $12.50 on top of our regular charges for Green Power. This extra money helps pay for wind farms and other renewable sources that cost more than burning gas. Give me a break. Very few people are actually going to volunteer to pay extra so they can sleep better knowing they've bought green power. Don't give us a choice! Instead of charging a willing few $12.50 extra, spread it around to everyone - you'll have even more money to buy green power.

Maybe then we can afford to build those power lines that we need to support more wind farms.

Ppfffeeeeaaart!

Dude does Bohemian Rhapsody with fart sounds from his hands. He's a "manualist". It really is quite funny. Yes - I am easily amused............

Another cult bites the dust

For some weirdness, go see this narrated slide show of photgrapher A. Scott's tour of the (now demolished) Nuwaubian religious sect's compound. It's like the Luxor in Vegas, but without the casino (although they did try to get one).

Calm before the storm

Darlene and I went to a friend's for Christmas dinner yesterday. On the way, we passed by our closest major mall. It was so weird passing by this place with the parking lot completely empty. I know this is the one and only day it is like this - but it was surreal to see.

Heh. Not like it will be today (Boxing Day) though...................

[edit] Just returned from the same mall. It was crazy. We got lucky and found a spot just as it opened up in the underground parking area. The mall itself was very zoo-like. On the crowded scale, I'd rate it 'teeming'.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Internet = anyone can be a star

OK, how about the 12 Days of Christmas as sung by the YouTube choir?

Andy Warhol was right. But he meant to say 15 seconds...............

"10 minute yoga..."

The 12 days of Christmas as interpreted by............ well I won't spoil it. Just watch.

They even dance in unison!

Omigod! I could not wait until later to post this, it was just so funny.

Someone hacked a trio of Roomba vacuuming robots and programmed them to play Christmas carols. Isn't that wild?

Best Christmas Picture Ever!

Photo by shutterblog

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Joyeux Noel

To all my readers, let me take this opportunity to wish you all a happy, safe and joyous holiday.

Needless to say, the posts may trail off a little over the next few days.......

Photo by hodge.

Off we went.............. into the mouth of the beast

Darlene and I did the unthinkable - we went to Calgary's biggest shopping mall on Christmas Eve. Why would we do such a thing? I guess we were feeling adventurous. Darlene was anxious to take advantage of an 80% off sale (women's clothing) at The Bay. We got there at 11am and it was dead.

While Darlene was sifting through racks of clothes, I decided to just do laps of the mall and people watch. I love people watching. Calgary has gotten very ethnic in the last decade or so, so there is much more to experience now than ever before. I get a kick out of traditional ethnic families. Fathers walking in front of the pack, barking orders or their disapproval to the rest of the family.

Speaking of families, Darlene witnessed a well to do family shopping for their child at one of those expensive toy shops. The child had found and was holding on for dear life to a huge rubber dinosaur. The family was trying to pay for the toy, but the child would not let the dinosaur out of its clutches. Any attempt at all was met with a shriek not heard since raptors roamed the earth. Darlene was joking that the only way this toy would be wrested from this child's grip was if they called in the zoo hands to sedate the kid with elephant tranquilizer. Heh................. that would be a sight to see......................

Incidentally, we left the mall at 1pm and it was still pretty quiet.

Where is it - 10th edition

Merry Christmas - this one should be easy. No big picture this time either. Name the place, it's not a city......

Don't believe everything you read... but enjoy it

If you're into UFO's, technology found in ancient ruins, conspiracies and the like, the World Mysteries site would be right up your alley.

I found some articles intriguing and some just down right humourous.

Moon Base Alpha will be on the pole

NASA wants to establish a base on the moon. This would basically be practise for eventually doing so on Mars.

They're expecting they will find ice on the moon too. Last time I checked, I didn't see any 7-11's listed for the moon............

Saturday, December 23, 2006

If I had my own radio station - Vince Guaraldi

You've probably heard it often enough this holiday season. His jazz was unleashed upon us as the soundtrack for countless Peanuts TV shows, the pictured special probably being the most famous.

Vince Guaraldi was one of the coolest pianists of all time and if you're interested in a fun intro to jazz, give some of his albums a try. Here are some samples from the pictured album: Christmas is Coming; Greensleeves; and of course - the classic - Christmas Time is Here.

Honestly, if a Christmas went by without me hearing these songs, it would be a very bad thing.

Jon knows who I'm talking about

A colleague from work figures it's a man's rite to go Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve.

He said any man not shopping on December 24th should turn in their man card right now.

I am often surrounded by an over-abundance of testosterone at work. It's a wonder I don't hunt......

Cats in Christmas hats......

Yet another example of "you can find that on the internet".

What's funny about these pictures is the "looks" on the cats' faces. It's like they're thinking
"You think you're funny, don't you?"
"You think you're actually getting away with this, don't you?"
"I'm going to cause you much suffering for this......... trust me, I am."

It's like an Idol audition........... only worse

In what could only be described as the most brutal torture ever imagined by one human toward another, I double-dog dare you to listen to this audition of O Holy Night. No matter how much you might be tempted to stop listening, before the end - don't.

Here's a letter I fired off the the NHL

"Recent changes made to the NHL hockey season schedule have made it so that teams play their conference and division teams more often. This is at the expense of seeing any action against teams in the other conference. I don't think this is fair to the fans. The NHL has been going on about trying to implement changes that the fans would appreciate and this is an example of a change that I don't think the fans are crazy about - especially in Canada and the locales of the oldest American teams.

Before the Oilers or Flames or Jets, Canadians across the country only had two or three Canadian teams to cheer for - the Habs, the Leafs and the Canucks (and for a while, the Senators). The point is that many hockey fans across our country developed a love for the older teams back when they were the only choices. But even now, with the addition of
(relatively) newer teams like the Oilers and Flames, those old allegiances still exist and have bred new generations of fans of the old teams. Don't take my word for it. Back when the Leafs and Habs travelled across the country at least once a year, the hometown jerseys were often outnumbered by the visitor's jerseys in the seats because the fan base is that huge. If the majority of western hockey fans had dismissed their old ties to the senior teams in the league, this wouldn't be an issue. But Fans of the Original Six teams across the country - even in the northern US states is still prevalent. I have often heard of the Habs' visit to Calgary on New Year's Eve spoken of as a tradition.

I would venture to say that if the Los Angeles Kings never visited Raleigh, North Carolina, nobody would notice or care. But a lot of people notice when the Leafs don't visit Calgary or when the Habs don't visit Edmonton, etc. I hope the NHL reconsiders the cultural significance of allowing Canadian teams to visit their counterparts country-wide and makes concessions for the return of cross-country tours in future seasons."

Friday, December 22, 2006

The heat is on

As of this moment, there is only 20 or so shopping hours left until Christmas. If you're not done with your shopping, things are likely to get very hectic in the next day or two. Here are some tips from me to you:

  • Lineups at the till are going to be long, unless you shop at places like Bowring. So if you can get away with gifting a vase or package of potpourri, you'll save loads of time.
  • What's more important - being courteous or getting that last set of kitty pyjamas at La Senza? That's right, survival of the fittest. You don't want to see their face when they unwrap a vase from Bowring.
  • Of course she doesn't want a 52" plasma HDTV for a gift. Don't worry, that look you'll get will only last until she sees Little Miss Sunshine on the big screen.
  • Shopping mall parking spaces are at a premium right now. It's not worth the hassle. Just take a taxi and deduct the fare from what you were going to spend on them. They'll never know.
  • Women love chocolate. But not just any chocolate. It should be dark and it should come from Europe. If it says "Made in China", make like you've just touched someone with measles, drop the box and run. It's OK if you attract attention - it may serve as a warning to other men who might be considering buying that inferior treat.
  • When buying clothes for women, if she has never explicitly told you she would like to own a particular article - don't buy it. Just because you think it looks nice doesn't mean she thinks it does.
  • Doesn't wrapping a gift suck? It doesn't have to be that way. Go to your local house and home store and find the section with fancy boxes that look like gift boxes (that open). You know why they look like gift boxes? Because they are gift boxes! No tape or folding of paper necessary. And they're re-usable.

Funniest thing read on another blog this week

"Joey Tomato's....... an upscale version of Hooters....... little black dresses instead of hot pants.... at least the food is better."

Taken from my dinner table.

It's in the can!

So a while back it was suggested that I consider making an introduction for The Show with Ze Frank with a Canadian flavour. What is more Canadian than Bob & Doug Mckenzie? So a friend of mine helped me put it all together and we wrapped and completed post production today. The clip has been uploaded to Ze's site, but it is on YouTube as well, for all to enjoy. Hopefully Ze likes it enough to put it in one of his upcoming shows.

We had so much fun doing it that we ad-libbed and made our own full-blown episode of The Great White North II, about Canadian politics. View that clip here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ever wanted to try painting?

You could be a painter and not even know it. Some people just give it a try and others feel it necessary to take lessons or whatever. Well, you may not need lessons, you may just need some pointers.

Blog me and leave me

As seen on bLaugh.

What we did for fun in the 70's

When I was a young pup, we had loop lines in the Montreal area. If you've never heard of loop lines, they are special telephone circuits that were set up by the phone company for testing purposes. But word got out of their existence and the next thing you know, young single people are using them to meet new people.

Using them was fairly simple - each telephone prefix in the Montreal area had a loop line associated with it. I don't recall what the numbers were anymore, but let's say for example they were 1129 and 1130. If you called 473-1129, all you got was dead air, until someone called 473-1130. If two people happened to call the number pair at roughly the same time, you got connected. To a complete stranger. Hey, it was the 1970's. Protocol indicated that if you called and someone of the same sex was on the other line, one of you hung up so the other could wait for someone of the opposite sex to call the other side of the line.

I actually got up the nerve to meet someone that I met on the loop lines. We spent the night in downtown Montreal until sun-up. It was a pretty good date but that was it for that.

Nature sure is freaky

This is what snowflakes really look like up close.
Thanks to the Low Temperature Scanning Electron Microscope for these amazing pictures.

Happy shortest day of the year!

Today is the winter solstice. Calgary will have 7 hours and 54 minutes of daylight today. The sun is a mere 15.5 degrees up from the horizon.

It just gets better from here..........

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The power of many

One of the things I think makes the internet so powerful is the fact that ordinary people can offer their opinion about anything. Including the things they buy. There is something very liberating about giving brickbats or bouquets to companies for our experiences with them.

But it's hard to get the word out. Until now. Planet Feedback allows you to submit or view others' opinions of company customer values. Their tag line is " Helping Consumers Express Their Voice, Helping Companies Prime Their Ears".

Sign me up..................

(D'OH! Now the link is there)

Saddam Insane was taken.............

Best band names that don't exist (that I know of):
  • Sucking Chest Wound (offered by a reader)
  • Bacardiac Arrest
  • Horton Hears The Who
  • Molson Twins
  • The Five Hole (hockey fans should identify with that one)
  • Coronation Street
  • American Refugee
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Backyard Hobbyist
  • Full Roaming Vapour (courtesy Ghostbusters)
  • Moon Base Alpha
  • Drink Drank Drunk
  • Two-Hour Parking
  • That's No Gouda
  • Misery Loves Chachi
  • Fake Cajun
  • Global Warming
  • The Phisher Kings
Readers may feel free to suggest others via my email or the comments. Sources of inspiration:

http://www.actsofvolition.com/archives/2004/june/greatbandnames
http://slacklalane.blogspot.com/2005/10/band-name-project-reprise.html
http://www.mookychick.co.uk/lists/make_a_band_name.php

Don't try this at home........

Will it blend? It's a viral for a blender company, but what the heck. I sure hope David Letterman had these guys on.

Let's bring a team back to Canada

Word on the street is that the Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL hockey team) are running out of options to keep the team alive in their current city.

Message to Gary Bettman (commissioner of the NHL):

One word - Winnipeg.

[puts up hand in arrogant gesture of not wanting to hear any critique of that suggestion]

Where is it #9

Name the city. No big picture this time. Only what you see here.

Good luck.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Yeah, your dog's gonna love that you saw this

Here's a list of food that's bad for your dog. Example:

Nuts in general are not good for dogs as their high phosphorus content may lead to bladder stones.

Curious - cats are not on the list!

Not all album covers created equal

Here's an unbelievable collection of album covers. It's labelled Worst Album Covers. I won't be so judgemental. I'll just refer to them as smile-inducing.

Yo........... Herbie...... put your shirt back on dude. Your flute's getting all sweaty.

Funny ads

Just go to this TBS site and sit back.

Bring popcorn. You're gonna be a while.

It's uncanny

OfficeMax has a site called Magic Gift Box that tries to guess a gift you've been wanting in 20 questions or less.

You may need to turn the volume up a little to hear the voice.